The Color Wheel

The Color Wheel is the basic tool for combining colors. The color wheel is designed so that virtually any colors you pick from it will look good together. It’s simply a tool to help you choose color schemes and paint colors with confidence. The first circular color diagram was designed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666.

The Color Wheel can be divided into warm and cool colors. Warm colors are vivid and energetic, and tend to advance in space. Cool Colors give an impression of calm, and create a soothing impression. On the other hand, white, black and gray are considered to be neutral.


Our human brains react to different Hues, Tints, Tones and Shades in surprisingly predictable ways. Those who understand colors can tell when a color scheme just doesn’t look right. But what are Hues, Tints, Tones and Shades?

These terms are often used incorrectly, although they describe fairly simple color concepts. If a color is made lighter by adding white, the result is called a Tint. If gray is added, the result is a different Tone. And if black is added, the darker version is called a Shade.

Hue – basic color
Tints – adding white to a pure hue
Tones – adding gray to a pure hue
Shades – adding black to a pure hue


Primary Colors are hues that cannot be created through the mixing of other colors. They are colors in their own right. The three primary colors can be seen below Red, Yellow, Blue.colorwheel-02

Secondary Colors are simply the combination of any two Primary Colors. Yellow + Blue = Green. Blue + Red = Violet. Red + Yellow = Orange. The table below shows the combination required to produce Secondary Colors.


When you mix a Primary colors and its nearest Secondary colors on the Basic Color Wheel you create six new mixtures called Tertiary Colors. An important rule of the color wheel is that colors opposite to each other on the color wheel usually work well together as a colour scheme. These are known as Complementary Colors.



Category: Design Basics